Battery Box Final Roundup

Next Steps:

I’m planning on continuing with this project. Right now the most obvious thing to do is to design a new box that’s easier to assemble and more water resistant. I think that can be done by using vinyl or duct tape rather than traditional box-making methods.

Then writing and testing directions, both through direct user testing and submitting versions to instructables. I like the idea of putting together a PDF with directions and simple illustrations that can be printed out in color or in black and white. Eventually it would be great to make an instructional video.

Finally, thinking more about it something like a kit would probably be valuable as well I know that Window Farms started as a DIY project, but really gained traction when they Kickstarted a kit you could buy.

Battery Box

Photo Apr 12, 8 19 28 PMExternal

Case – Custom 3-ply corrugated cardboard box. Cardboard is strong, easy to use, and basically free. It’s something that can be scrounged easily and you only need a box cutter and PVA (Elmer’s) glue to work with it. It can also be sealed with polyurethane or any outdoor paint, if desired.

Solar Plugs – MC4 connectors. Instead of wiring the solar panel directly into the box, we’ll use standard MC4 connectors. Most 100W solar panels are sold with MC4’s attached. Including them complicates the build a little bit, but complies with industry standard.

Inverter – This is external to the box, but necessary. Inverters that would be appropriate for this build can range from $25-$400, depending on type and tolerances. It’s better to educate people about the different kinds of inverters and allow them to buy the one that meets their needs the best rather than recommend one and hard wire it into the system.

Solar Panel – I have a 25W panel for demonstration purposes, but this system can take up to a 200W solar system.

Misc – Velcro to keep the box closed, waterproofing if desired.


Battery – 2 12V 35Ah sealed Deep Cycle batteries. Wired in series this will produce 70Ah. This should be enough energy storage for running a small mini fridge, or something along the lines of a sleep apnea machine. Of course it is also suitable for phones, laptops, tablets, and other small electronics. Downside, it will be quite heavy. But, there’s no way around that with lead acid batteries.

Charge Controller – This keeps the batteries from damaging the solar panel when they’re full. The particular model also allows you to see how full the batteries are, when their charging, and you can program it with charge timing.

12V Cigarette Car Lighter Port – This is included instead of wiring the inverter into the box directly. Having a port allows more customization. Folks can buy an inverter that meets their needs without changing the project build. Also, allows access to direct DC power if needed.

Fuse & Fuse Holder – This protects the box’s electronics from a surge in the inverter, or whatever is plugged into it.

Misc – 10 Gauge wire for connecting everything up, round terminals for the wires, butt connectors to connect the fuse inline.


Xacto Knife or Box Cutter

Adjustable Wrench









These articles tickle me because I’ve spent a great deal of time this semester learning about the reaches and wonders of space. I’ve spent whole evenings in the Hayden Planetarium looking at visualizations of the known universe, but these articles about the bacteria living in my gut are what has made me feel small.

They really give me a sense of how little we know about the world we live in. For all the understanding we do have, there are millions upon millions of things that we don’t. Right now it seems like the best thing you can do, is just to do your best. Try to limit how many resources you consume and the amount of trash you produce. Encourage diversity in all areas of life. Be nice to people. Smile more. Because no matter what, there’s an entire world that we don’t even know about effecting our lives. The earth seems too complex for us to control, or to fix at all. Maybe all we can do is try our hardest, and let the rest sort itself out.


Mental Mapping



The Memory Palace



memory palace


In this project we seek to make a map of the city. But, this will not be a digital or physical map. Instead, we attempted to create the maps in our own minds. Inspired by the ‘Memory Palace’ mnemonic tool, we decided to engage in a series of close looking exercises that would translate the length, width, and height of New York into a new neural pathway. Essentially, the map would be the new connections made in our brains.

For our exercise we chose to create a series of blind contour drawings. In this technique the artist will draw without lifting their pen or pencil and does not look at the drawing as they are making it. Instead, they focus on the object they drawing. This exercise is focused on the act of looking, rather than the creation of a drawing. The final drawing is merely the record that the act of looking took place, rather than the goal.

We selected three locations for our drawings. The first was the bridge over Amsterdam Ave at 116th St. This view would allow us an uninterrupted view down the island. The second was from the Top of the Rock, which would let us observe the city from above. The third was from Tudor City Pl at 42nd St, where we could look west across the city. In this way we could observe New York across all axes.

Looking Down the Avenue

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 10.04.41 PM


Photo Apr 03, 9 54 09 PM



Photo Apr 03, 9 54 18 PM


Looking Down form the Top of the Rock

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 10.05.46 PM

Photo Apr 03, 2 40 03 PM

Photo Apr 03, 9 54 42 PM

Photo Apr 03, 9 54 52 PMIMG_1870Photo Apr 03, 2 59 00 PMIMG_1892

Looking Across the Street

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 10.07.57 PM

Photo Apr 03, 4 55 46 PM (1)

Photo Apr 03, 9 55 01 PM



Photo Apr 03, 9 55 14 PM


Energy Storage

It seems like energy storage, aka batteries, is the weakest link in large scale renewable energy adoption at the moment. Current solutions are expensive and dangerous. While there has been some exciting news recently with Arpa-E’s announcement about their research breakthroughs, it seems like there is still a long way to go.

My research has left me wondering:

What are the challenges facing large scale energy storage nationally? What about in NYC specifically

Is funding a main issue?

What are the challenges of energy infrastructure in NYC?

What are the pitfalls of current battery types and systems?

How is the NYC energy grid vulnerable to and resistant to disruptions?

I’m hoping that NYU professor Zivan Zabar of the Engineering Dept can help me answer these questions.


Link Dump:

Seeing is Forgetting

That’s the difference between being a West Coast artist and a European. A European artist really believed in himself as part of the historical tradition, that archive…Obviously, you think what you do is important, or you wouldn’t be pursuing it with the kind of intensity you do. But the minute I start thinking about making gestures about my historical role, I mean, I can’t do it, I have to start laughing, because there’s a certain humor in that.

It has taken me a long time to realize I don’t have to make art that engages with the artistic canon. Growing up it was natural to go to the museum and draw the statues. College was more of the same. Your work wasn’t anything if you didn’t know what came before you, if you didn’t know what everyone else was up to, if you weren’t reading the theory. That made a lot of sense to me, so I sunk into the history of art and writing about it. I engaged in ‘the discourse’. But, I think in the end it starved my projects of life. I made work that seemed ‘right’ and ‘good’, but burned out on it. I found that while I took great joy in fabricating the work, the pieces were somehow dead.

I stopped making things for a while after that. And I started to think that maybe I didn’t have it in me to be an artist, or a creator, or whatever it is that we do. That thought made me sad, but it passed. Eventually though, I realized that not making things was making me, not unhappy, but numb.
So now I try and make things again. But I try to keep a blind eye to ‘the discourse’ and ‘the canon’ (at least, compared to before, I can’t seem to stop loving to argue about art). I’m trying to focus on things that are fun, or funny. Things that will help people I can see around me in my neighborhood, or people I know. It feels so much better to think of every object as an iteration or experiment and to be free of any place in history or expectation of it.

Preliminary Short Project Proposal

A photo of mine of a solar charging system from Namibia.
A photo of mine of a solar charging system from Namibia.

There’s already a quick and, relatively, low cost way to setup a solar charging system in the home, but online step by step directions are fairly terrible:

I propose to build solar battery charging system, to write/record clear instructions, and to put them on instructables for people to find.

This would:

  1. Make existing information easier to find, so people can build their own and iterate on the idea.
  2. Make it easier to introduce energy diversity into a household.
  3. Provide the opportunity to create a new sexy gadget for consumers. (Assuming I can make my system super nice looking and cool)

I think that we are still in the ‘priming the market’ phase of consumer energy diversity. In addition to efforts to diversify city energy consumption, asking for solar and wind from ConEd for instance, I think that there is value to bringing the change into the home. Ideas and changes make more sense when people can see and touch them every day.

Temporary Expert – Week 3 Readings


A very prescient set of guidelines, but again, ideas spread better when people can understand wtf you are talking about. Also, perhaps limiting yourself to academics and industrialists made sense at the time but now it seems overly ivory tower or, I guess, modernist. Maybe that’s what makes this reading seem so old. The framework good, but it assumes a top down solution rather than a omnidirectional solution, bottom-up/side-to-side/top-down, which is how things work now.

Concept Maps

I like concept maps very much, and have been using them to organize my ideas before I really knew what they were. However, I think that it’s extremely important go into them will defined questions or parameters. Otherwise the map ends up very messy.

For example:


Now, I don’t mean to say that didn’t find this exercise useful, but that chart could definitely be easier to read if it were more focused.